How we collude in corrupting education

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Jun 2018 10:08:15


By Vijay Phanshikar,

Parents had asked Anuraag never to miss a single period in his 11th Standard as he moved from the purist atmosphere of the school to junior college. So, he went to junior college, not far from his home, religiously and went to the classroom straightaway -- day after day after day, without fail, without excuses. And for long hours, he would sit in the empty classroom with no teacher. Then one day, things changed. The Principal saw the boy sitting alone in the class, and directed teachers to engage the ‘class’ without fail. The teachers did oblige, though for a couple of weeks, and then gave up. For them, to engage the ‘class’ for just one boy was nothing but blasphemy of sorts.

Poor Anuraag (name changed for sake of privacy) came a cropper, but still kept going to the junior college every day, not for a few weeks but for full two years in 11th and 12th Standards. He got bored, he got tired, and he felt terribly frustrated.

But the system did not budge. And this is not the story of just one boy. This is the story of the whole region, of every junior college -- whose classrooms are empty, but whose students fill the rooms in tuition classes elsewhere by the thousands. And a huge number among them do so under the sly patronage of the managements of junior colleges. In most cases, this happens as per an under-the-table arrangement of exchange of certain ‘fees’ per head between the managements of the junior college and the tuition classes, ‘The Hitavada’ has learned.

This is one story everybody knows but nobody wants to speak about. For, this is one story of a great and dirty collusion among many junior colleges, many tuition classes, and countless numbers of students’ parents.

So, as per the story’s sly script, the classes are never engaged. The kids go to tuition classes and pay huge fees there -- in addition to paying the fees in junior colleges, and make a mockery of education in two most crucial years of young life.

And as everybody knows but nobody acknowledges, most of these 12th Standard students do not get into those haloed institutions such as the IITs or the IIMs or the engineering colleges of national repute or medical colleges of high standards. In case of career in humanities, too, the same story applies. Most students end up in institutions of differing standards while their families can’t even crib that they have been cheated by the system.

And they cannot crib because the families, too, are the collaborators of the ugly system in which education comes the last and commerce comes the first, with student as the tool of making cheap money at the cost of young aspirations. For, even as they seek admissions for their wards in junior colleges, many parents insist upon the concession for not attending classes since their wards would attend tuition classes instead. The managements of junior colleges also agree -- most willingly on most occasions -- since they too are beneficiaries of the ugly system.

But then, some students do not allow their good sense to die. They awake to a harsh reality of their educational journey -- that they would be condemned to learning of lower standard -- which they don’t appreciate. So, they press their parents to send them to educational institutions elsewhere -- to Mumbai, to Pune, to Hyderabad or anywhere -- so that at least from first year onwards in college, they would go to better institutions.

This insistence does not stem from the kids’ fancy. It stems from a realistic awareness that a huge number of colleges in Nagpur and Vidarbha are quite casual about the quality of teaching-learning process. So, the kids want to go elsewhere in the country where educational standards are higher and quality of teaching-learning process better.

Of course, as stated in the earlier episode of this series, every kid is not fortunate to get into a better college even in other places since his/her score in 12th Standard is not good enough for an admission in better colleges elsewhere. There, too, therefore, the kids have to make a compromise.
There is yet another angle, too, to this story. Many kids do get admissions in colleges of high standards elsewhere, but find it difficult to cope with higher competitiveness prevailing there. For, when they were in junior college back home in Vidarbha, they were hardly subjected to rigorous educational practices and strict discipline. So, such kids find it tough to cope with the higher standards elsewhere.

Here is a real-life story of a kid (all details fudged for privacy) who could not cope with high standards in a megapolis, and went into serious and severe depression. The college management there hospitalised the child. Subsequently, the parents brought the kid back home for a few weeks before dispatching the youngster back to the college.

Such stories abound, though in varying details.
This is what we are making of our youngsters.
And as all this happens, our colleges and our universities just refuse to acknowledge the reality that they know so very well.
Gorier details will tumble out of the cupboards subsequently, if we really want to press on with enquiry of truth.